13 June 2018
13 June 2018
SWA, Los Angeles: Personal, Adaptive, Creative.
The Culture of Practice
SWA is an elite landscape architecture, urban design and planning firm, with a network of eight studios worldwide. They partner with clients to create vibrant places that are at once ecologically resilient, aesthetically compelling and socially beneficial. Designs reflect a sensibility both pragmatic and imaginative, uniting beauty with purpose in the natural and built environments.
“The culture is founded on a notion of collaboration at all levels,” says firmwide CEO and Principal, Gerdo Aquino. Its practice and philosophy have evolved from a firm with one or two lead principles into a collaborative culture that is founded on the fact that they’re a 100% employee-owned company.
The studio is located on the 8th floor of the historic Fine Arts Building in Downtown Los Angeles. Sitting atop a major metro station, the firm is well positioned to welcome a new generation of Angelinos who are vacating their cars in favour of public transportation.
The firm provides a neutral, open-plan space that’s not too designed. Employees are given the tools they need to be creative and feel like this is a place where they can thrive and push the boundaries of design. “There’s really no hierarchy and the only walls in the office are conference rooms. Other than that it’s a very open, democratic space,” says Aquino.
To mark its 60th anniversary, SWA’s innovation lab, XL, runs firm-wide innovation workshops designed to address complex environmental, technical and cultural issues in landscape architecture and urban design through research and innovation.
SWA also has a tradition of pro bono efforts that give back to the communities in which they live and work. Its Social Impact Design Initiative (SIDI) is an opportunity for people to engage in their community by volunteering their time on a vegetable garden project, planting trees or helping students learn about different plant species. Others volunteer with organisations to help clean up the LA River. “We feel indebted to the communities we live and work in and desire to improve the quality of life for everyone,” says Aquino.
Author: Kat Hall, Marketing Assistant, Bespoke Careers